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The Cowboys of Compton

Stories Of Us
Blaxican Walter Thompson-Hernández takes us on his personal journey writing about the fusion of Black and Mexican families and cultures.
Show transcript
00:01
It was really rare to have someone in my position to be able
00:04
to write a book about the Compton Cowboys, right?
00:06
It's, it's usually, you know, a white guy from like some other
00:08
part of the world.
00:09
It was a really rare experience to do that and it was really
00:12
incredible.
00:35
My name is Walter Thompson Hernandez and I was born and raised
00:38
in Huntington Park, California.
00:40
I'm the child of an African American father and Mexican mother
00:42
And I think for me, it was always about trying to find ways to
00:45
really exercise and, and represent both identities.
00:49
I think the biggest challenge was really sort of like existing
00:52
in a world that I had to sort of like pick between African American
00:55
and, and between Mexican and I think, you know, for young people
00:59
and, and, and young Children, right?
01:00
Like we are really sort of prone to taking in what the world
01:04
wants us to be.
01:06
If you see me out in the world, like how I move to the world is
01:09
like, very sort of rooted in, in my experience as a black and
01:12
brown person.
01:12
I'm not half of anything.
01:14
My parents didn't give half of me, to me, they gave all of them
01:17
themselves.
01:18
And because of that, I'm someone who identifies so strongly
01:20
with both communities when society and the world, it kind
01:23
of was like telling me that like being Mexican wasn't something
01:27
that was, that, that was valued in this country.
01:29
My mom was kind of telling a different story, right?
01:31
She was telling me the opposite.
01:32
She was telling me that I should be proud about, about who I
01:34
am and where I come from.
01:36
And so for me, like identifying as Chicano has always been
01:38
really important because it kind of just like allows me to
01:42
both be fully present in this experience, but also honor the
01:46
experiences of, of my relatives in Mexico.
01:48
Latinos have had such a big role in creating a lot of what this
01:52
country is.
01:53
And so when I think about the fabric of this nation, you know
01:56
I don't think there's one fabric, right?
01:58
I think there's like many fabrics of, of this nation.
02:00
But to me, Latinos make up a really important part of that fabric
02:06
I've always been really curious about the world and and, and
02:08
I've always been really curious about culture and about people
02:10
and about identities.
02:11
And so for me, like being a a storyteller, journalist artist
02:15
you know, ha has always kind of existed.
02:18
I'm proud of a lot of the work that I do.
02:19
I think the story that I work on are really rooted in the community
02:23
experience.
02:24
It gave me a chance to really ask people questions about their
02:27
lives in ways that related to my own.
02:29
And all of my sort of like deep questions about identity and
02:32
and, and, and about challenges related to, to race and identity
02:36
I kind of realized that I was never alone, right?
02:42
I really think about the Compton Cowboys a lot because it was
02:45
sort of like one of the rare moments, like someone from the
02:47
community was able to write a book about black men and women
02:51
who are cowboys in ways that like what was kind of different
02:54
I'm someone who identified strongly with that community
02:56
and it was really rare to have someone in my position to be able
02:59
to write a book about the Compton Cowboys, right?
03:01
It's, it's usually, you know, a white guy from like some other
03:04
part of the world.
03:05
It was a really rare experience to do that and it was really
03:08
incredible.
03:08
It's my hope, right?
03:10
That the work I do that the stories that I tell using different
03:13
mediums, um really provoke people to think and act about the
03:17
world in different ways.
03:22
I think I would encourage my community to move.
03:26
I think number one is to recognize like how powerful we are
03:31
and, and to recognize like the influence that we have both
03:34
in the US and in the world, I think, like stories of migration
03:37
and stories of resilience and sacrifice to me are really beautiful
03:41
and special and powerful.
03:42
It starts with realizing that our stories really matter.
03:46
There is nothing to be ashamed of in terms of our background
03:49
and in terms of how we got to this country, Xfinity is celebrating
03:53
the diverse voices of our Latino community and all the ways
03:56
we move the world, join us and share yours.